D. L. Mayfield's "Why I Gave Up Alcohol" offered a unique perspective. I gave up alcohol a few years ago as I realized that my purpose in life is to know God and to make him known. Alcohol made me less discerning of the Holy Spirit or unable to perceive him at all. And it lowered my resistance to sin. I was more apt to say and do things I normally wouldn't do when sober and under the influence of the Holy Spirit. I want to be able to respond to the Spirit without hesitation or question when he prompts me to action.
Lake Norden, South Dakota
Mayfield offers a cogent and biblical basis for her family's total abstinence from alcohol. Her views are formed, primarily, in light of their chosen life of ministry to the inner-city poor, who are characterized by the painful effects of alcohol abuse.
But what of us Christians who live in prosperous suburbs, where when our churches seeks to minister to the poor, we have to go several miles to neighboring communities? Does the rationale for avoiding alcohol disappear with the apparent lack of those who would stumble (1 Cor. 8)?
Like Mayfield, and Carrie Nation of a century ago, our decisions to drink or avoid alcohol, all to the honor of God, must be rooted in the cultural context where each of us lives. And whether we live in prosperous suburbs or decaying inner cities, there are several modern cultural factors that affect us all when it comes to the use of alcohol. I am not a theologian, but I do run a small business, so let me offer something of a cost-benefit analysis with eternal consequences.
1. Getting a DUI is expensive, but more than that, it is a poor testimony for a Christian. None of us, regardless of our view on drinking, would justify a DUI driver, but how often do my friends drive home after a couple margaritas and a chaser during a respectable evening with friends? What of the insurance increases, the inability to rent a car, and other consequences of a DUI ticket? How does this affect our testimony and reputation as a follower of Jesus?
2. Far and away, the highest percentage cause of car accidents is alcohol. This is just a more potent example of No. 1 above.
Was there an injury to a loved one in my car—or perhaps a death to an unknown passenger in the other car? Is my example here exaggerated? It is until I become one of the thousands of such cases each year in America. And guaranteed, each of those drivers assumed they were in complete control of their social drinking that night.
3. While drinking socially, exactly how much is required before my inhibitions and speech codes are slightly loosened? Do I say things which, at the least, are embarrassing, at the worst, cause permanent damage, and all of which are damaging to the name of Christ?
4. Every adult child of an alcoholic will tell you of the lifelong pain and trauma caused by the adult alcoholic in their home. Was there physical, sexual, or mental abuse? Was there failure to provide materially? Were there broken relationships and failed role models? Alcoholism is never intentionally chosen and it always starts as social drinking. It is medically complex and beyond the range of this discussion why some are easily susceptible to this cruel addiction, but for those of us who value Christ's reputation even more than our own, and who are charged with the overall responsibility of rearing the next generation, why would we assume this addiction would never touch us?